Lowering your car or truck so it’s closer to the ground is a popular way to customize your ride. Done right, it’s a great look that also boosts handling performance. Done wrong, it could compromise handling, drivability and traction, reduce tire tread life and even damage parts.
Pluses and Minuses of Lowering Suspension
|More road feel||Reduced ride comfort|
|Stiffer ride||Impractical for rough roads|
|Less roll when cornering||Accelerated or uneven tire wear|
|Better handling||Chance of bottoming out|
|Improved aerodynamics||Potential rubbing on parts or tires|
|Improved traction||Can’t use a standard jack|
|Less rollover risk||Cost|
|Great looks||Warranty issues|
More Road Feel
A lowered suspension helps a driver be highly attuned to how their vehicle acts on different pavement as more of the vibrations from imperfections in the road surface come through the steering wheel.
With this setup, you have to have more rigid springs so the front or back of your vehicle won’t bottom out over bumps or depressions. This is the driving experience many prefer, versus a cushier ride from, say, a luxury sedan.
Less Lean in Corners
The lean of a vehicle around a sharp turn is greatly reduced because the shift of weight is less due to the lower center of gravity. The part of the vehicle on the outside of a turn stays more level with the inside. This lets a car settle more quickly into a turn and act more responsively.
Another effect of being closer to the ground is improved responsiveness, more stability, and grip at speed. Because lowering means getting stiffer springs, there is less weight transfer when you hit the gas or brake hard. This means you’ll enjoy faster acceleration and quicker stops.
Less Air Drag
Lowered vehicles are more aerodynamic. There’s less air hitting the wheels and tires (that are not streamlined shapes). This makes these cars faster. Some owners of low-stance vehicles also notice improved gas mileage. BUT, lowering a car too much will actually increase wind drag.
Less Rollover Risk
Lowered vehicles have a lower center of gravity, which decreases rollover risk when cornering.
Lowering generally means you’ll put a plus-sized tire and wheel package on the vehicle. Such tires have shorter sidewalls, a larger contact patch (that keeps more rubber in contact with the road) and less roll around corners.
Cars and trucks that have been lowered with custom wheels are attention-getters. It’s a more aggressive and performance-oriented look that stands out in a crowd.
Less Ride Comfort
If you and your passengers are accustomed to a softer suspension that cushions impacts like bumps and potholes, you may think less of the ride comfort of a lower suspension. You may also notice increased road noise since you’re closer to the pavement.
No Go on Rough Roads
The lower clearance will not be your friend on rutted, rocky, washboard and potholed roads.
Uneven or Accelerated Tire Wear
Lowering changes the geometry of your wheel-tire fitment. If it’s done improperly, your car may have an alignment problem that results in premature or extreme wear patterns.
Even an inch-and-a-half lower suspension can cause problems around corners, with slight potholes or on speed bumps. Traveling over the lip of a parking garage or starting up a driveway or ramp could cause the front of your vehicle to hit the pavement. Contact with the ground can cause serious damage to components underneath the car, like the exhaust system and oil pan.
If you ever need a tow truck, you may require a flat bed. Otherwise, there could be a problem with the back body of the vehicle dragging on the ground.
Potential Rubbing on Parts or Tires
Poorly done or extreme lowering can cause suspension and steering parts to contact each other, the wheels or the tires. It could also cause tires to rub the body during turns or going over bumps.
Can’t Use a Standard Jack
If you get a flat tire, you may find out at an inconvenient time that there’s not enough clearance to get the unit under the vehicle’s frame.
Quality components and keeping correct alignment can get pricey. The lower you go, the more chance you’ll need additional parts. For example, if coilovers (meaning coil spring over shock) are part of your new setup, you’re likely looking at an outlay of $1,000 or more.
You should check both your owner’s manual and any manufacturer’s or aftermarket warranty to determine if 1) the manufacturer advises against lowering your car, or 2) if lowering your car will void or adversely affect any warranty coverage you currently have.
Know This Before You Modify Your Suspension
Here’s what to know before you go low.
- If it’s higher performance you’re after, you may need to lower a lot less than you think. It’s easy to miss the mark and actually make your suspension worse. To be sure that components like struts and springs can do the work of keeping tires at the right angles, get expert help.
- Don’t cut corners when it comes to shocks, struts or other components. You’re making changes to the structure and balance of your vehicle. You don’t want to risk failing parts.
- If you modify your vehicle in ways that aren’t road legal, your insurer may not pay a claim for damage. Talk to your agent before you customize your ride and ask if your premiums will go up or policy terms change.
- Installing extreme aftermarket wheel-tire setups or suspension changes can result in steering, suspension or drivetrain problems that won’t be covered by your vehicle warranty. Check to see if the modifications you’re planning will result in denied warranty claims BEFORE installation.
- Get an alignment after you lower to ensure the best handling and tire life.
- Take care while you get accustomed to how your new setup performs. With the much stiffer suspension, your vehicle may steer a little differently and won’t absorb road shocks as well. A sudden hard brake or tight turn on a bumpy road could cause a loss of traction.
Any time you change your vehicle’s OE (original equipment) suspension, you should be sure that you’re not creating a setup that is either unsafe or is going to cause problems with other car functions. Like with many aftermarket customizations, it’s about finding the right balance of safety, performance, looks, cost, and drivability. Stop by your local Les Schwab for help.
Les Schwab is Your Suspension Inspection Headquarters
Plus, most of our shocks and struts include a lifetime warranty on parts and labor. Stop by any location or book an appointment for a free pre-trip safety check of your vehicle's suspension and other vital components.
Lowering springs also change the geometry of your wheel/tire fitment. If it's not done right, you can expect both accelerated and uneven tire wear. Your car could also bottom out over speed bumps and be even tougher to get up inclines, like your driveway, without scraping your bumper.Does lowering suspension improve handling? ›
Improved handling and traction: Generally speaking, lowering the vehicle closer to the ground improves the tires' grip on the road, leading to improved handling.What is the life expectancy of a suspension? ›
Some shock absorber manufacturers say you should replace them at 50,000 miles, but that's more for their benefit than yours. Having the shocks and suspension parts inspected at 40,000 or 50,000 miles, then annually after that, is a better idea.What are the disadvantages of lowered suspension? ›
- Increased bottoming out. One of the most common problems with lowered suspensions is that the vehicle can more easily hit the road when it bounces. ...
- Uneven tire wear. ...
- Potential conflict with other parts. ...
- Lifting and towing problems.
Perfect for your daily driver. You can jump straight to adjustable coilovers if you want to and have the cash, but for many people springs are an affordable and safe option that will get the job done without much complexity at all.Does lowering suspension affect insurance? ›
Yes, you'll pay more to insure your car if you have it lowered. Any vehicle modification will likely increase your insurance costs, but lowering your car comes with its own specific issues that impact your insurance rates.Are Lowering springs better than stock? ›
Your factory shocks' overall ride quality is tuned to be most effective at the stock ride height. Lowering springs are shorter in length (most of the time) compared to factory springs, your shocks will be riding lower in their travel than they were designed to be at while sitting at normal ride height.Do I need new shocks with lowering springs? ›
Yes, if you install lowering springs then you need new shocks.Is it OK to put lowering springs on stock shocks? ›
Using stock shocks can make the ride bouncy
Since the factory shock absorbers aren't valved to match the increased aftermarket spring's rate, they won't be able to dampen the motion of the spring properly. Additionally, installing a set of lowering springs on stock shock absorbers can also lead to premature wear.
An air suspension is one the most comfortable and load bearing suspensions which is why they are used on most top of the line luxury and sports cars. Due to their load bearing capacity they are also used on many trucks and buses.What is the advantage of lowered cars? ›
A lowered suspension makes the car more stable, especially when turning on sharp corners. Handling, therefore, is improved, and so are faster braking, and quicker acceleration.At what mileage should suspension be replaced? ›
That depends. “Driving on rough or unpaved roads, towing a trailer or carrying heavy loads, can shorten their functional life,” says Reina. “With heavy use, you could be looking to replace them at 40,000 or 50,000 miles or sooner. Under normal conditions, 75,000 to 90,000 miles might be reasonable.”What are signs of worn out suspension? ›
- Continued bouncing after hitting bumps or a dipping when braking.
- A drifting or pulling to one side when turning corners.
- One side of the parked car sitting lower than the other side.
- Difficult steering.
- Unusually bumpy rides.
Have your wheels aligned every 6,000-10,000 miles, or as needed. Check all suspension components for wear every 15,000 miles. If your are in a car accident or if you notice your ride feels different, check all suspension components for wear or damage.Is suspension checked on service? ›
The wheel bearings and balancing are checked properly, as are the wheel alignment and suspension.How do you check for suspension problems? ›
Signs of suspension problems include: clunking sounds when hitting holes or speed bumps; the vehicle bouncing after hitting bumps or hole; the vehicle pulling to one side; the vehicle sitting unevenly to the ground, uneven tire wear; the vehicle leaning out when turning; hard or loose steering; and/or a rough ride ...Can I drive my car if the suspension has gone? ›
In simple terms, no - you shouldn't drive a vehicle with broken suspension. When a car's suspension breaks, there are multiple components that could be causing the problem - such as a broken coil spring or a broken shock absorber.Does suspension affect tire wear? ›
Suspension components like ball joints, tie rod ends, control arms, control arm bushings and wheel bearings are designed to hold your wheel and tire securely in position. If any of these parts are worn, this can result in uneven tire wear.Why does my car feel bouncy when I drive? ›
To summarize, the four main reasons for your car bouncing or swaying are wheels that are not aligned, excessive or uneven wear on the tires, damaged struts and worn shock absorbers, or a loose steering linkage. If you suspect that you need suspension repair, we invite you to bring your car into our shop today!
Fox recommends that the minimum suspension fork and shock service is 125 hours of use, yearly, or whichever comes first. That is certainly on the longer side of things. Similar to changing the oil in your car, the more frequently you service your suspension, the better the fork will perform for longer.How much does it cost to fix suspension? ›
You can expect to spend between $1,000-$5,000 to repair a suspension. The costs can differ according to the car type, the cost of new parts, the shop you visit, and the difficulty of the replacement. Two main factors impact the car suspension repair cost. Parts: It costs you the majority of the amount.What are common suspension problems? ›
- Pulling to One Side. Your vehicle pulling to one side can be a sure sign there's a problem with your suspension. ...
- Bouncing on Bumps and Dips. ...
- One Side or Corner Feels Lower. ...
- Dipping When Braking. ...
- Difficulty Steering. ...
- Rolling to the Side When Cornering.
Feeling every bump
If you start to feel every bump on the road, it's a clear sign that there is a problem with your shock absorbers or struts, that needs to be checked. An easy check is the bounce test. Simply push your entire weight down on your car's bonnet. Release and count the number of times the car bounces.
Depending on vehicle and driving conditions, many cars require shock and strut replacements sometime after the fifty thousand mile marker. Instead of waiting to notice problems, you might consider having your suspension checked once you reach the fifty thousand mile mark, or every fifty thousand miles on most vehicles.Does suspension affect stopping distance? ›
Simple answer: Everything. Suspension components eliminate “lag” and maintain proper vehicle geometry, which reduces braking time and braking distance.How often do coil springs need to be replaced? ›
How Long Do Coil Springs Last? There really is no set timeframe at which coil springs expire. A lot of coils last for the life of a vehicle, while others break down sooner. 2.When should I replace my coil springs? ›
- Worn, smashed or missing jounce bumpers.
- Marks on the suspension stop where jounce bumper impacts.
- Excessive tire wear.
- Compromised handling or ride quality.
- Rust or corrosion on the springs.
- Inconsistent spring ramp angles or kinks.
- Excessive sagging, leaning or swaying (especially when loaded)